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Antonio Visentini (Venice 1688- Venice 1782)

View of Burlington House Signed and dated 1746

Oil on canvas | 79.5 x 130.7 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 400685

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  • Trained as a painter, Antonio Visentini's association with Consul Jospeh Smith began around 1717, and led to the artist's production in 1735 of a set of engravings after Canaletto’s series of views of the Grand Canal in Smith’s collection. Visentini was also to act as an architect and general artistic factotum for Smith until the latter’s death in 1770. Smith and Visentini shared a great interest in the designs and theories of the sixteenth-century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Smith published a reprint of Palladio’s architectural treatise, I Quattro libri, in 1768. In 1743-4 he had commissioned from Canaletto a series of pictures depicting Venetian monuments, including the principal buildings of Palladio in imaginary settings. It was perhaps the combination of his interest in Palladio and the paintings by Canaletto that prompted Smith to commission a series of eleven overdoor capricci of English neo-Palladian buildings. The paintings were possibly intended as overdoors for the Consul’s villa at Mogliano, on the Venetian mainland near Treviso. Eight of the views were hung in the Entrance Hall at Buckingham House by 1819. They were moved to the Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle in 1828. Visentini’s View of Burlington House was based upon plates 23 and 24 in the third volume of Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus, published in 1725, whilst Zuccarelli painted most of the figures and all of the landscape settings. There is a marked divide between the hazy background landscape and mathematically rigorous architecture. Here, Palladianism is at its most austere: in the unashamed upward thrust of the façade we can see why some thought of the style as 'slightly staccato'. Burlington House was the London home of 'the architect earl' Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, who did much to promote the Neo-Palladian style in England. The new façade for Burlington House, built in 1718-19 probably to the designs both of Campbell and of Burlington himself, was inspired both by Palladio’s Palazzo Porto-Colleoni at Vicenza and by the Jacobean architect Inigo Jones, whose work was in turn indebted to Palladio. In the nineteenth century Burlington House became the home of the Royal Academy and the façade was drastically remodelled. Signed and dated Visentini et Zuccarelli / Fecerunt Venetiis 1746 Text adapted from Canaletto & the Art of Venice, London, 2017.

    Acquired by George III from the collection of Consul Smith in 1762

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    79.5 x 130.7 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    103.4 x 154.6 x 13.5 cm (frame, external)